GS fails to overcome Heungkuk Life, commander remains resolute

GS Caltex failed to capitalize on its chances to overtake leader Heungkuk Life in women’s professional volleyball. In each game, they were unable to overcome Heungkuk Life’s height and fell to their knees.

GS Caltex lost their away match against Heungkuk Life 0-3 (23-25 22-25 18-25) in the second round of the Dodram 2023-2024 V League Women’s Division at Samsan World Gymnasium in Incheon on Sunday.

GS Caltex was unable to continue its momentum from the previous day, when it defeated Jeong Kwanjang 3-0 (27-25 25-19 25-15) in straight sets. With a season record of 6-3 and 17 points, the gap between them and first-place Heungkuk Life (8-1, 23 points) widened to six points.

GS Caltex’s performance on the day wasn’t bad. The result was a shutout loss, but the game was intense. However, the team’s inability to find solutions in clutch situations led to a vicious cycle of collapse.

The first set was particularly disappointing. With a 20-21 deficit, Silva and Yoo Seo-yeon’s open successes and Heungkuk Life’s Yelena’s open touch net error quickly brought the score back to 23-21, but they were unable to maintain the two-point lead.

At 23-22, Heungkuk Life’s Kim Yeon-kyung tied the score, and Silva and Yoo Seo-yeon’s attacks were blocked by Lee Ju-ah and Kim Mi-yeon, respectively, to hand the first set to Heungkuk Life.

The second set was similarly close. At 19-20, Silva’s open attack was blocked by Kim Yeon-kyung. Even Kwon Min-ji’s open attack was blocked by Lee Won-jeong, making it 19-23 and the set score 0-2.

The third set was no different. They couldn’t escape from a 12-10 lead and eventually fell behind. In contrast, Heungkuk Life gained a foothold in the match with a series of successful attacks from Heungkuk Life’s main players, including Kim Yeon-kyung, Yelena, and Reina.

GS Caltex didn’t quite live up to expectations despite Silva’s double-double of 21 points, 44.54% offensive share, and 37.74% attack percentage. Kang So-hwi scored 10 points and Yoo Seo-yeon added seven points, but it wasn’t enough.

“I don’t think the game flow was bad for both us and Heungkuk Life,” said GS Caltex head coach Cha Sang-hyun in an official interview after the loss, “We showed what we have, even though we lost a lot of points in the third set. We were disappointed with our concentration at the end, but it was okay.” He consoled his players.

“We need to think about it a little bit more,” he said about the lack of scoring power in the tiebreaker, “but I don’t think we lost to Heungkuk Life in power. However, the finishing of one or two attacks was disappointing.”

GS Caltex also lost the height battle to Heungkuk Life on the day. GS Caltex had only one successful block, while Heungkuk Life had 13, which was one of the reasons for the loss.

Coach Cha Sang-hyun said, “Heungkuk Sinsaeng’s blocking is high. It’s hard to find a hole and it’s not easy to break through,” he said. “We don’t think we lost because of their blocking because we are a team that plays with organization, not blocking volleyball.”

“Today we played a seesaw game after the middle of every set. We were up or down by two or three points, then we’d catch up, then we’d catch up, then we’d catch up.” “In the end, one or two missed receptions gave us the lead. Blocking is something we’ll have to work on throughout the season, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.”

Meanwhile, GS Caltex will play the fourth game of the second round against Korea Expressway Corporation at Anbang Jangchung Gymnasium on May 22. In the first round, the team defeated Korea Expressway Corporation with a set score of 3-2 (16-25 17-25 25-17 25-21 15-11).

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